20 Shady Real Estate Tactics

Entering the real estate market as a home buyer can be a thrilling yet daunting experience. In a field rife with complexity and significant financial commitments, it’s crucial to stay alert for potential manipulation or fraudulent practices. In this guide, we’ll explore some common shady real estate tactics to help you navigate the housing market confidently and safely. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about the topic.

Shady Real Estate Tactics

See also: 4 Real Estate Investment Examples: Diversify Your Portfolio

Identifying Shady Real Estate Tactics

Unfortunately, some real estate professionals may not always have your best interests at heart. Recognizing the following deceptive practices can help protect you during the home buying process.

  1. Bait-and-Switch Pricing: The realtor advertises a property at a low price to attract interest, then informs potential buyers that the property is no longer available and offers a more expensive alternative.
  2. High-pressure Sales Tactics: The realtor may push you to make a quick decision, insisting that other buyers are interested and that you’ll miss out if you don’t act immediately.
  3. Fake Listings: Some agents may list properties that don’t exist to attract potential buyers to their agency.
  4. Exaggerating Potential Returns: In the case of investment properties, some agents might overstate the rental income potential or resale value of a property.
  5. Downplaying Expenses: Conversely, agents might understate the costs associated with property ownership, such as maintenance, taxes, and insurance.
  6. Pocket Listings: Some realtors hold onto listings without marketing them widely, limiting the seller’s ability to get the best price while potentially benefiting the realtor.
  7. Selective Disclosure: An agent may disclose positive information about a property while hiding negative aspects.
  8. Undisclosed Dual Agency: The agent does not disclose that they are representing both the buyer and the seller, which can lead to conflicts of interest.
  9. Pushing Unnecessary Services: The agent might insist you use their preferred lender, inspector, or other service providers, who may not offer the best terms or services.
  10. Phantom Bids: The agent suggests there are other interested buyers and bids when there aren’t, pressuring you to increase your offer.
  11. Misrepresenting the Neighborhood: The agent may exaggerate the benefits of the neighborhood and downplay any negatives, such as crime rates or nearby construction projects.
  12. Unlicensed Representation: An individual may present themselves as a licensed real estate agent when they are not.
  13. Manipulating Photos: Agents may use wide-angle lenses or digital enhancement to make rooms appear larger or hide defects in online listings.
  14. Underquoting: The agent might quote a lower than realistic selling price to attract more buyers, increasing competition and potentially the final sale price.
  15. Overquoting: Conversely, an agent might quote an unrealistically high price to the seller to secure their business, only to lower it later.
  16. Kickbacks: The agent may receive undisclosed payments from third parties, influencing their advice to buyers or sellers.
  17. Not Honoring Agreements: An agent might not honor verbal agreements or even written contracts, perhaps arguing that conditions have changed.
  18. Ignoring Your Preferences: An agent might show you properties that don’t fit your stated preferences in an attempt to offload hard-to-sell listings.
  19. Lack of Due Diligence: The agent doesn’t provide enough information about the property, its condition, or legal status, leaving you to discover issues after purchase.
  20. Steering: The agent might steer you towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on discriminatory factors, a practice that’s not only unethical but also illegal.

Tips for Avoiding Shady Real Estate Tactics

Staying informed and vigilant can help you avoid falling prey to shady real estate tactics.

Research Your Realtor

Before working with a realtor, do some research. Check their credentials, look for online reviews, and consider asking for references from past clients.

Insist on Transparency

Ensure all transactions and agreements are in writing, and don’t hesitate to ask questions if something seems unclear.

Hire a Real Estate Attorney

Consider hiring a real estate attorney who can review all contracts and agreements, providing an additional layer of protection.

People Also Ask

What Should I Do If I’ve Been a Victim of a Shady Real Estate Practice?

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a shady real estate tactic, consult a real estate attorney. They can provide advice and may help you seek legal recourse if necessary.

How Can I Report a Dishonest Realtor?

If you believe a realtor has acted unethically, you can report them to your local real estate board or association, or even the state’s licensing agency.

Can I Back Out of a Real Estate Transaction If I Suspect Shady Tactics?

Yes, in many cases, you can back out if you suspect foul play, especially if contingencies have been written into your contract. Consult with your attorney for personalized advice.


Navigating the real estate market requires awareness, vigilance, and a good team of professionals on your side. By recognizing shady real estate tactics, you can ensure a more secure and transparent home buying experience.